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December 13 2018

Sunrisers look to add Bench Strength in IPL Auction

- by Sahil Rathod

If you look at just the last 3 seasons of the IPL, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have been the most consistent team: they’ve made it to the playoffs in all 3 seasons, made it to the final in 2 of them and won the decider in 2016.

They made it to the final last season as well though they were beaten comfortably by MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings. Having retained the core of the team, the Hyderabad-based outfit will be looking to add bench strength during the upcoming auctions in Jaipur.

All in all, the Sunrisers have released 9 players to free up a purse of Rs 9.7 crores, with 5 slots available which includes 3 Indians and 2 foreigners. They traded with Delhi Captials and have let opener Shikhar Dhawan go but the move will see Abhiskek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem and Vijay Shankar coming into their squad.

David Warner, who missed last season due to suspension, has been retained though his replacement Alex Hales has been released. Another notable player who has been released is wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha who despite having been signed for Rs 5 crores did not live up to expectations. All rounder Carlos Braithwaite didn’t really impress last season with bat or ball and he too has been shown the door.

Sachin Baby, Mehdi Hasan, Tanmay Agarwal and Bipul Sharma were all signed at last season’s auction but have been released without featuring in a single match game while Chris Jordan did manage to get one match but he too has been released.

Despite all these departures, the Sunrisers still have the core of the squad intact. In players like Kane Williamson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al-Hasan, Rashid Khan, Shreevats Goswami, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake and Mohammad Nabi, they can boast of a lot of firepower in all departments.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t need to bulk up further. One area that will need immediate attention is the opener slot after Dhawan’s departure. Jason Roy and Brendan McCullum are possible targets.

Having let Braithwaite leave and with Yusuf Pathan ageing, the all-rounder slot is also a position that needs to be addressed urgently. Australian Moises Henriques, New Zealander Corey Anderson and West Indies’ Fabian Allen are possible options.

Saha’s departure means that Goswami is the only wicketkeeper in the squad which could see Hyderabad move for Bangladesh’s Liton Das or Afghan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad. If they want an Indian option, Naman Ojha packs in a lot of experience.

Considering the fact that 3 of the 5 slots are to be filled with Indians, an experienced middle order batsman would be a shrewd buy. Manoj Tiwary, Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Saurabh Tiwary are interesting options while youngsters like Milind Kumar and Shivam Dubey have been consistent in Ranji cricket. Signing the ageing Yuvraj Singh might be a gamble but it could prove to be a masterstroke.

Sarfaraz Khan was signed by Bangalore with a lot of promise and potential but somehow he has not lived up to it. Maybe a change of team is exactly what he needs to take his career to the next level.

Sunrisers are known to sign youngsters who have made a huge difference to their season like Rashid Khan (2017), Mohammed Nabi (2017) and Mustafizur Rehman (2016). Sarfaraz is not an unknown anymore but he has a long way to go and it could possibly be in Hyderabad.

All in all, a few shrewd buys in Jaipur and the Hyderabad Sunrisers can easily brace themselves for a fourth consecutive spot in the IPL playoffs.

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